A forgotten mindfulness exercise.
Our mind loves to think…all the time even when we sleep. Latest neurological research estimates that we have around 45,000 thoughts/day and most of them are just “mental noise” or “mental spam”. We are thinking zombies on mind autopilot without too much control unless we learn a tool to reverse it. Zen calls this state “day sleep walking”.
In fact our mind hates to be quiet: “If I am not thinking, I am failing my job in analyzing, judging, deciding, reasoning and… controlling this human being.” However when our mind becomes overactive or wandering too much the effect can be very detrimental to us. Its thoughts may become alienating, obsessive and deceptive feeding us with endless anxiety, fear, anger, resentment, future expectation, illusion, deception and stress. You got the picture.
How can we control our ego-centered and often deceptive thinking mind?
The answer is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is imposing to our analytic, conceptual and critical mind to become a mirror-like one. A mirror is reflecting things, as they are in a non-judgmental way moment to moment. Mindfulness meditation is the practice to switch from an analytic and conceptual mind to a simple non-judgmental awareness state moment to moment. There are many types of mindfulness meditations. One of them is practicing daily sitting Zen meditation or Zazen (Za = sit, Zen = meditation) whereby you learn to become mindful to 1) your posture 2) your focus point such as breathing and 3) your incoming thoughts that you let them go before returning to your mind anchor.
Beside this traditional sitting meditation mindfulness can also be achieved in many other ways during the day. It can be applied while:
- We are thinking,
- We are using our 5 senses: seeing, listening, tasting, touching & smelling,
- Doing something such as walking*, eating, talking, driving, gardening, etc.
* Walking meditation is an essential part of Zen practice.
Walking meditation can be applied very easily in your hectic and busy life as an excellent complement to your more formal daily sitting meditation. You will enhance very quickly your mindfulness skill by focusing on your walking step after step all day long if you wish.
How to do it?
By being mindful to your right foot then to your left one when they gently touch the ground and by assimilating – why not – each of your footstep to a kiss to our lovely planet. Walking meditation can be done around a room in your house or anywhere during the day. By repeating this wonderful mindfulness exercise many times it will bring you a very relaxing and peaceful feeling and will enhance your meditation skills during your formal sitting session.
Cheers to all. Stay well and serene.
Ven. Ji Gong Sunim.